Mainstay Matching Charitable Donations

Each year we make a donation to a charity to say thanks and help out worthy organizations. For many years it was Yonge Street Mission, then BroadReach Foundation and now we’ve donated to Hands Across The Nation (HATN) for the past couple years.

We chose HATN as they are managed entirety by a small team of devoted volunteers. Their commitment ensures the lion’s share of donations goes directly to projects while having very low operating costs (than 10% of total expenditures).

This year we are trying to make a bigger difference by matching any donations that are made by our partners and friends up to a maximum of $5,000 total.  On top of that, HATN has a donor that will then match those donations.  This means a $250 donation is matched twice over, so $1,000 goes to the charity.  That’s pretty cool.

If you know someone that might be interested in donating, the site is (Don’t forget to drop us a note after the donation, so we know how much to match.)

Joanne travelled to The Gambia in January/February with HATN to help build a market garden, distribute health care and oversee a well being drilled for drinking water and irrigation.

I’ll hopefully be joining the next trip, to Mali, once COVID is over.

Provincial Telehealth Resources: An Interactive Map of Canada

We have informed clients about telemedicine services providers like TIA Health that are free of charge to residents of Ontario. Some insurers have built these into your plans, some have not. it’s honestly been a bit confusing to keep track of it all.

One of the companies that we deal with (BBD) has put together a great listing of these providers coast to coast. Many of them are free of charge. You can use these services, as well as share with family and friends to access doctors to renew prescriptions, get advice or treatment and a variety of other service.  Click below to see what is available in your

Provincial Health and Telehealth Resources

Some of the telehealth resources available to Canadians vary by province – but don’t worry! We’ve compiled a list of provincial resources and packed them all up in this neat, interactive map. To view the resources available in your province, simply hover over one of the yellow provinces and click to visit the appropriate resource.

If your province is grey – don’t fret! While it does mean we weren’t able to find any provincial resources explicitly dedicated to telehealth, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Other telehealth and telemedicine services are available Canada-wide. We intend to update this map as availability changes or new services become available. In time, we hope to see all of Canada lit up in yellow to indicate provincial telehealth availability, but for now, this map is up to date as of October 19th, 2020.

Provincial Telehealth Resources: An Interactive Map of Canada

CRA: Employers can now reimburse home office furniture tax-free

Over the past 6 months we’ve had a few clients ask about supplying employees with equipment to set up home offices. Many went ahead and reimbursed staff for desks and/or chairs now that they are working from home.

I know this is not our field, but when I saw the article I thought I’d pass it along as it seems to give a bit more clarity to what can be done tax-free

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has added home office furniture to the list of expenses that employers are allowed to reimburse tax-free — as long as the expenses were related to the Covid-19 pandemic, a CRA official said at the national conference of the Canadian Tax Foundation on Tuesday.

The agency allows employers to reimburse employees up to $500 in allowable expenses without taxing that amount.

Previously, the CRA had indicated that only employer reimbursements of personal computer equipment expenses would be eligible for tax-free treatment under the $500 threshold. Reimbursed amounts above the threshold would be treated as as a taxable benefit for the employee.


A positive of COVID. It helped me realize a dream.

In November/December I started to do something I’d only talked about. I decided to write a book.  I never thought I’d have the time to actually publish it, until after I was retired. Then came COVID. I found it hit me harder than expected. I didn’t find reading to relax came as easy as it had, nor as relaxing. Writing did come easily and soon became an outlet, as did the editing, rewriting and researching how to self-publish. The idea of writing a book started to shift from an abstract idea to really taking on tangible form. I could actually do this.

I thought I would share some of the lessons learned in the benefits industry over almost 25 years. It was originally targeted to benefit advisors, but as I wrote it I realized it might appeal to anyone that was trying to build better relationships with clients and I added some travel stories too. Well, the dream came true today as my book was published to the FriesenPress bookstore and within the next week it should also be on and others.

Thanks to all my wonderful clients that have added to my story, taught me so much and made me better at what I do.

Supreme Court of Canada’s latest word on bonus entitlements on termination

This case may not apply to every employer, but if you are one that pays bonuses and has long term incentive programs, it may. We’ve seen many of these cases find for one party and then be overturned so the Supreme Court having the final word sets it in stone (sort of).

this is where you want to really be sure that your Employment contracts are well written, your incentive programs crystal clear and terminations get vetted by employment lawyers when dealing with longer term employees, higher earning levels and anything but the most basic types of income.

The Supreme Court of Canada recently released its decision in Matthews v. Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd.[1] This highly anticipated decision dealt with the entitlement to bonuses and long-term incentive plan amounts in assessing wrongful dismissal damages. The Court concluded that such language will only be effective where the contract language clearly and unambiguously limits or removes the employee’s right to damages based on the loss of those entitlements.


Happy Thanksgiving

I wanted to reach out to my clients and friends and wish you a Happy Thanksgiving

It has been a tough year, and I doubt that we are through it all yet. That said, it’s been great staying in touch with so many of you and seeing your resilience (and that of your organization and employees). Watching so many of you shifting to this new norm, not just holding your own, but adding new staff and seeing your business grow. I find it funny to think back on conversations, with clients, a year ago, who were talking about how they could never let people work from home. Many of you quickly adapted not just technology wise, but to the whole concept of having people work remotely, to actually being innovative enough to make it happen. Being a small part of that and watching it happen has been extremely encouraging. Keep up the great work.

Let me take this moment to say Thank You for your continued business, for your support and friendship. So many of you are much more than “just clients” and I always look forward to and enjoy the time are able to work together.

As we enter into this Thanksgiving weekend, in a way we would never have thought imaginable (dinner for 2 or 4?), remember that together or apart, we have a lot to be thankful for. It may not always be obvious, we may not always be together with the ones we love, but being healthy, living in this great country and being able to do what we do is a great gift worth remembering.

Happy Thanksgiving



Ontario: Requirements for Mandatory Policies, Training and Postings

Each year we provide this update to let our Ontario clients, prospects and friends know of the mandatory documents they are required to post. Following is an updated list.

Employers with employees in Ontario often ask about legislative requirements under various employment statutes, including mandatory policies, training and postings under the Employment Standards Act, 2000, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, the Pay Equity Act, and the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017.  To make this information conveniently available, the Littler Toronto office assembled these requirements in a single publication. This year, the publication also includes a link to Ontario government guidelines regarding COVID-19 and workplace health and safety and sector-specific resources (safety guidelines, tips, and posters) to help employers protect workers, customers and the general public from COVID-19 in Ontario.

We have prepared an update to this publication dated September 22, 2020, as in September 2020 Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development released a new version of the poster (version 9.0) that is designed to help ensure employers understand their minimum obligations and employees know their rights under the Employment Standards Act, 2000. Please note that employers must provide each employee with a copy of the most current version of the poster within 30 days of the employee’s date of hire, and distribute the revised poster to current employees ASAP.



New COVID Screening required in Ontario workplaces

Last week Ontario added changes for Ontario employers to consider that are returning employees to the workplace.

They have provided information and a screening tool to make it easier for employers.

“Workplaces should implement this screening for any workers or essential visitors entering the work environment. This does not include patrons entering a workplace (e.g., customers entering a grocery store, restaurant, bar or other food or drink establishment). It also excludes emergency services or other first responders entering a workplace for emergency purposes. Further, essential workers who travel outside for Canada for work purposes should not be excluded entry on this basis alone.”

Keeping track of employees from a distance: Monitoring technologies and related legal considerations for teleworking

Most of our clients are adapting to employees working at home quite well. As many of those look at this becoming a longer-term part of their business, some questions arise.

  • If the employees home is also their office, how are employers responsible for ensuring their health and safety?
  • How do employers track and monitor the hours an employee has worked?
  • Can employers track e-mails, internet traffic etc?

This article provides a bit of insight and suggestions for process and policies around the issue that may be of assistance.

Due to COVID-19, teleworking has become the new norm in Canada and many parts of the world. In the traditional physical workplace, employers are generally permitted to take certain reasonable steps to observe or supervise what employees are doing throughout the day. In part, this is because the workplace is not considered a private space and it is normally reasonable for employers to exert control over what employees do in the workplace in the general course of their employment-related duties.


New Ontario ESA changes – the COVID-19 period has been extended to 2021

More information on the extended IDE leave. This changes extends the protections for employers and employees until the new year.

Earlier this summer the Ontario government made a number of important changes to employment standards laws in response to COVID-19. These changes, which affected the rules around temporary layoffs as well as temporary reductions in hours or wages, were intended to remain in effect until September 4, 2020. However, late last week the Ontario government announced that the “COVID-19 period” is being extended until January 2, 2021, which means that the changes will remain in effect for several more months.